On a meteorologically uncertain Saturday morning, after a week of rain…
A cast of dozens
60 members of the local and even international community turned up at St James College in Cygnet to be part of our working bee. We had babies, toddlers, kids and adults; people came from Cygnet, Franklin, Ranelagh, Lonnavale, Hobart, Italy and from as far as Auroville, India! This amazingly willing, jolly and hard-working bunch plunged into mixing and sculpting cob immediately – at one point we had seven mixing tarpaulins in use simultaneously! It was incredible.
It’s a muddy job, but someone’s got to do it.
The exercise was successful beyond our wildest hopes – the weather was absolutely gorgeous from 15 minutes before kickoff to 15 minutes after hometime. everything we hoped to do got done and then some: we finished the final short-straw cob render on the 7.5m curved seating bench; we built the entire prep bench from long-straw cob; we made 102 adobes for the construction of the pizza oven; and, because we had such a huge and enthusiastic turnout, Marcus (the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden co-ordinator) raided his own stock of foundation stones so that we could put up a 3m stone and cob retaining wall behind the 7.5m bench.
Penny Milburn, local Permaculture guru
We met some amazing folks (a natural building architect in training and a hydroelectric and offgrid solar specialist were among them – how much do we love networking?) and hung out with some lovely friends (including past workshop participants Penny and Kate, Permaculture afficionado / cob expert respectively), Zoe Magnus, one of the authors of the outstanding Channel Living vege box scheme, and Matt and Sadie of Gourmet Farmer fame – to name but a few).
In case we haven’t mentioned it before, we’ve been making a cob pizza oven, two huge cob / stone / earthbag seating benches and a foodprep bench at St James’s Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden. The pizza oven is inspired by Firespeaking’s innovative design: it uses a 55 gallon drum as the oven. The fire is underneath and separate, meaning it doesn’t need to be moved or removed from the oven before baking; it also super-heats the oven to baking temperatures in 20 minutes or less. That will make baking fresh pizzas, sour-dough bread, cakes and even roasts far faster and far safer than many earth oven designs.
Roy and daughter Boe
We got involved because we love the idea behind the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden scheme – educating kids about great, fresh, local food. It fits right in with everything OzEarth is about – building local resilience, food-security, enjoying and helping each other in fun, community-building ways.
The area will soon be under a beautiful timber roof, so that whatever the weather, pizza parties can be taking place. Sour-dough and yoghurt-making workshops are already in the pipeline… can’t wait! There’s also discussion about using the area on Market days and during the Cygnet Festival – so with any luck, the whole area will end up being a great community resource.
Our particular thanks go to Anne Foale, Headmistress of St James, Marcus Hamilton, Garden programme co-ordinator, Nicky Crane, garden teacher, Simon Perigo, who welded the arch forms for the prep bench, and (last but not least) Keegan and Jesse, two students at St James who have been working like troopers side by side with us for weeks, and Saturday was no exception. All the staff at St James have been incredibly supportive and trusting, giving us pretty much free rein and helping us in any number of ways.
The crew: Roy, Nicky, HT, CW, Anne, Alistair, Marcus & Keegan
We also want to say a huge thank you to everyone who turned up and made the day a huge success – what an amazing place Cygnet is!
More photos can be seen on our Facebook page.